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Minimum Age

The FEDERAL 21-year minimum age law for all tobacco and vaping products must be followed.  There are no exceptions to the federal law. Even if the state law minimum-age may be different, the federal law 21-year minimum age must be followed.  State law indicates it is illegal to sell or furnish restricted products to persons under the age of 18, except if distribution is to family members on private property.  


Deny sales to anyone under 21 years old for FDA regulated products (SEE Restricted Products section).

Note:  The new federal 21 year minimum-age for FDA regulated products of all tobacco and vaping products (SEE Restricted Products section) was declared immediately effective on December 20, 2019.  This law allows for no exceptions.

You must Check photo ID of everyone appearing under age 30 who attempts to purchase FDA regulated products and verify the customer is of legal age to purchase. This is an each-and-every time requirement (even if you know the person to be of legal are.) If you "carded" them yesterday, you must "card" them again today!

Decline a sale when the customer is underage, has no photo ID, the photo ID contains no date-of-birth or the photo ID has expired.

Restricted Products

Any substance containing tobacco leaf including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, or dipping tobacco or rolling papers, alternative nicotine products (non-combustible product containing nicotine that is intended for human consumption, whether chewed, absorbed, dissolved or ingested by any other means) and vapor products (non-combustible product containing nicotine that employs a heating element, power source, electronic circuit or other electronic, chemical or mechanical means used to produce vapor from nicotine in a solution, for example e-cigarettes).


FDA regulations apply to these tobacco products defined under the Tobacco Control Act as any product made or derived from tobacco or containing nicotine from any source (e.g., synthetic nicotine) that is intended for human consumption.

  • Cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, and roll-your-own tobacco
    • Do NOT break open cigarette packages to sell products in smaller amounts.
    • Do NOT sell single cigarettes, also called "loosies."
    • Do NOT sell cigarette packages containing fewer than 20 cigarettes.
    • Do NOT sell flavored cigarettes, cigarette tobacco or roll-your-own tobacco (other than menthol or tobacco.)
    • Only sell in a direct face-to-face exchange*.
  • Smokeless tobacco
    • Do NOT break open packages to sell products in smaller amounts.
    • Only sell in a direct face-to-face exchange*.
    • Do NOT sell without a health warning label.
  • Cigars
  • Hookah & Pipe tobacco
  • Dissolvable tobacco products
  • Nicotine gels
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery System (ENDS), which are products such as:
    • e-cigarettes
    • e-hookah
    • ecigars
    • vape pens
    • advanced refillable personal vaporizers
    • electronic pipes
    • Components and Parts, such as:
      • e-liquids**
      • atomizers
      • batteries (with or without variable voltage)
      • cartomizers (atomizer plus replaceable fluid-filled cartridge)
      • digital display/lights to adjust settings
      • clearomisers
      • tank systems
      • flavors
      • vials that contain e-liquids
      • programmable software
  • Do NOT give away free samples of any of these FDA regulated products or components and parts.  EXCEPTION:  Free samples of smokeless tobacco are only allowed in a "qualified adult-only facility" -- where no person younger than 21 is permitted to enter or be present (or a higher minimum-age if your state or locality has a higher age limit.)
  • Do NOT sell in vending machines UNLESS you operate a "qualified adult-only facility" -- where no person younger than 21 is permitted to enter or be present (or a higher minimum-age if your state or locality has a higher age limit.) Some state laws prohibit tobacco product vending machines. Check your state law.

EXCLUDED from FDA regulation are accessories, such as:  ashtrays, spittoons, hookah tongs, cigar clips and stands, pipe pouches, humidors.

* The sale of cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and smokeless tobacco through vending machines and self-service displays are allowed ONLY in adult-only facilities where no person younger than 21 is permitted to enter or be present (or a higher minimum-age if your state or locality has a higher age limit.)

** Retail establishments, such as vape shops, that mix and/or prepare e-liquids or assemble vaporizers are considered "tobacco product manufacturers."  Many separate regulations will apply.  See FDA regulations for tobacco product manufacturers at

Acceptable Forms of Identification

Driver's license or other generally accepted means of identification with a picture of the individual and which appears to be valid, including an operator's or chauffeur's license issued by any United States state or possession, an identification card of any uniformed service of the United States or a valid passport.

Persons or entities selling or distributing Restricted Products shall require proof of age from a prospective purchaser or recipient if an ordinary person would conclude, based on appearance, that such prospective purchaser or recipient may be under 18. Sellers must compare the photograph and physical characteristics noted on the identification with the physical characteristics of the person presenting the identification.


Unless otherwise required by state or local law, FDA recommends that retailers accept only government-issued photographic identification with the bearer’s date of birth. (e.g., State-issued driver’s license or identification card, military identification card, passport or immigration card) for establishing a legal age to purchase FDA regulated products. The Photo ID is not acceptable if it has expired.

Fine/Penalty Schedule for Selling to Minors

Persons in violation of the law (sales clerks, owners or operators) are subject to a fine of $25 for the first offense, $100 for the second offense and $250 for subsequent offenses. The person making the sale is guilty of the offense.

In addition, the following additional penalties shall apply to the owner: for the first violation per location, the Division of Liquor Control shall issue a reprimand; for the second violation per location within two years, the Division shall issue a citation prohibiting the outlet from selling Restricted Products for a 24-hour period; for the third violation per location within two years, the Division shall issue a citation prohibiting the outlet from selling Restricted Products for a 48-hour period; for the fourth and any subsequent violation per location within two years, the Division shall issue a citation prohibiting the outlet from selling Restricted Products for a 5-day period.

An owner will not be penalized if he can document the following: an in-house or other tobacco compliance employee training program was in place to provide the employee with information on the state and federal regulations regarding tobacco sales to minors (attended by all employees who sell tobacco products); a signed statement by the employee stating that the employee was trained and understands state federal laws and regulations regarding the sale of tobacco to minors; and such compliance training meets the minimum training criteria established by the Division of Liquor Control. This exemption shall not apply to any retailer with four or more violations per location within a one-year period, or if the retailer knowingly allows the employee(s) to sell tobacco to minors.


FDA has a variety of enforcement tools to address retailers who violate Federal statutes or regulations, including civil money penalties, warning letters, seizures, injunctions, no-sale orders and/or criminal prosecution. Retailers who violate the regulations may also be in violation of state law and subject to state penalties or other related orders.

Affirmative Defense

An affirmative defense is available if a purchaser presented an Acceptable Form of Identification purporting to establish that such individual was 18 or older and the seller reasonably relied on such proof of age or on the appearance of the purchaser or recipient.


Federal law provides that the FDA shall adopt regulations that may provide any retailer that implements the “approved training program,” a reduced civil money penalty if that retailer is found in violation. The FDA does not require training, but it recommends retailers train and educate their employees.

Until the FDA issues guidance or regulations on what constitutes an FDA “approved training program,” the FDA indicates “the agency intends to use a lower maximum civil money penalties schedule for all retailers who violate the regulations restricting the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, whether or not they have implemented a training program. However, FDA may consider further reducing the civil money penalty for retailers who have implemented a training program.”

Minor Possession

It is illegal for anyone under 18 to purchase, attempt to purchase or possess Restricted Products, except during in the course of employment. It is illegal to for a minor to misrepresent his or her age to purchase tobacco products. Violators will be guilty of an infraction and have any Restricted Products confiscated. For a second or subsequent violation, the Restricted Products will be confiscated and the violator must complete a tobacco education or smoking cessation program. Any person who reproduces, alters, modifies or misrepresents any chauffeur's license, motor vehicle operator's license or identification card shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.


Not applicable under Federal law

Sign Requirement


Retailers must place a sign in a conspicuous place at every display from which Restricted Products are sold. Signs must include the depiction of a pack of cigarettes at least 2 inches high, defaced by a red diagonal diameter of a surrounding red circle, and the words “Under 18.” Signs must contain red lettering at least ½ inch high on white background which states:


Failure to post this sign will result in a $25 fine for the first offense, $100 fine for the second offense and a $250 fine for subsequent offenses.

For more information, contact:

Alcohol and Tobacco Control
1738 E. Elm Street
Lower Level Jefferson City, MO 65101
Phone: (573) 751­5448


Effective 8/10/18:  For retailers who sell cigars individually without packaging, there is an FDA sign requirement.   Download We Card's Sign

Alert:  A U.S. District court overturned this regulation in February 2020. However, there are expectations this regulation will be revisited and may be reinstated after ongoing adjustments or legal matters before the courts. Therefore, retailers need to be prepared for this requirement IF it is required once the legal matters are resolved by the court.

Cigars Sold Individually without Packaging - Retailers who sell cigars individually, and not in a product package must post a sign at each point-of-sale that displays all six of the required warning statements per 21 CFR § 1143.5(a)(3).  Each sign must be at least 8.5x11 inches in size; clear, legible, and conspicuous; printed in black Helvetica bold or Arial bold type or other similar sans serif fonts against a solid white background, in at least 17-point font size with appropriate spacing between the warning statements; posted on or within 3 inches of each cash register where payment may be made; and unobstructed in its entirety and read easily by each consumer making a purchase. The required warning statements on the sign must be: printed in a manner that contrasts, by typography, layout, or color, with all other printed material; and capitalized and punctuated as indicated above.  

We Card - FDA Required Sign


Compliance Checks

As a condition of receiving federal substance abuse block grant funds, federal law requires the state to conduct random, unannounced inspections of tobacco outlets to determine compliance rates. 18 and 19 year olds may be used, pursuant to rules promulgated by the Supervisor of Alcohol and Tobacco Control July 1, 2006. The Division of Liquor Control is required to provide a report of the results of such compliance activity.


FDA conducts compliance checks of retail stores to determine whether retailers are complying with the new federal law, using:

  • Attempted purchases of tobacco using underage customers.
  • Inspections of stores for other compliance requirements.
  • Inspections of stores in response to public complaints to the FDA’s request for the general public to report suspected store violations (1-877-CTP-1373 or

The FDA indicates that it will conduct follow-up compliance checks on stores found in violation.

Minor License Visual Characteristics

Minor license is horizontal. The primary photo is on the left and "UNDER 21 UNTIL 00­00­0000" is at the top, in red text. For drivers under 18, "Missouri" is in purple and "INTERMEDIATE LICENSE" is beneath the state name on the top left. A small duplicate ghosted photo is on the bottom in the middle. For more information and/or an image go here


Not applicable under Federal law

Last updated 04/2022